ABOUT 2019-10-02T16:40:01-07:00

At the interface of watersheds and the open ocean.

The Coastal Science and Policy Program (CSP) at the University of California Santa Cruz offers a Master of Science and a Ph.D. Designated Emphasis. These degrees prepare students from diverse academic and professional backgrounds for leadership in coastal science and policy fields addressing issues from watersheds to the open ocean. Interdisciplinary coursework, experience-based learning, hands-on projects with institutional partners, and seminars/workshops prepares students for impactful careers applying multifaceted approaches to advance sustainable and productive ecosystems, coastal and watershed communities, industries and institutions. Graduates of this program will help ensure that innovative interdisciplinary knowledge and diverse insights inform real-world solutions and create measurable and scalable change.

The intensive coursework and engagement with institutional partners limits the capacity of the Masters program to small cohorts of extraordinary incoming students each year. The program seeks national and international individuals with demonstrated experience and passion for coastal science and policy who seek to become the next generation of coastal science and policy leaders. Small cohorts and need-based financial aid for incoming students also allows CSP to facilitate in-depth interaction with faculty members, professionals and practitioners in the field. As such, the application process is very competitive.

Our location on Monterey Bay and UCSC’s coastal research campus allow the CSP graduate program to conduct groundbreaking collaborative research and offer students unique educational opportunities. Located at the nexus of Silicon and Salinas Valleys, Monterey Bay represents the tremendous potential of coastal ecological and social systems around the world. Students can take advantage of local opportunities or apply their interests to coastal regions (from watersheds to the open ocean) elsewhere in the world.

CSP is an incubator, inspiring students to either create small businesses and NGOs or facilitate larger institutions and governments to advance sustainability science and policy. CSP faculty are leaders in coastal natural and social sciences, economics, governance, and policy. CSP students will be the coastal science and policy makers of the future.

In addition to their rigorous coursework, CSP students are required to conduct individual capstone projects, carried out during the second year of study. Linking academic researchers and graduate students directly with science, business, and policy practitioners provides dual immersion in the academic and practitioner cultures and contexts and, ultimately, the ability to work fluidly across the academic-practitioner interface.

Our Mission

The Coastal Science and Policy Program at UC Santa Cruz aims to educate emerging coastal science and policy leaders to identify critical threats to social and ecological systems, respond to complex problems with effective, practical alternatives, and to confront institutions with innovative, interdisciplinary solutions.


The CSP graduate program is housed at UCSC’s Coastal Research Campus on the shore of Monterey Bay. Only five kilometers from UCSC’s main campus, CSP students and researchers have ready access to the resources of a major research university. State and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations co-located on the Coastal Research Campus reflect the diversity of institutional partners in the greater Monterey and San Francisco Bay areas. The rich diversity of coastal land, watersheds, and marine environments support forestry, agriculture and fisheries, rural and urban communities, industries and governments that create and sustain the unique qualities of coastal zones and their peoples around the world.

For questions about the program, contact CSP staff at csp@ucsc.edu.

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